Archive for April, 2010

‘So who are you doing it for?!’

April 26, 2010

I’ve had a fair number of people ask me this question after telling them my plans since deciding to take on this trip.

Now (as I mention in my About Me page) my general motivation for taking on such a challenge was pretty much self-indulgent but, with less than three weeks to go until I start (eek!) and with people asking me more frequently than before where they can sponsor me, I’ve finally got round to setting up a JustGiving page to raise some money for a cause that I think is worthwhile.

I’ve chosen The Stroke Association having seen the affect that the condition can have on family life after my Nan suffered from a stroke whilst on the way to Cromer on a family outing on 30th May 2007. I truly believe it’s a cause that’s worth supporting and it affects far more people than you perhaps realise. To read bit more about why I want to raise money, please look at my Support Me page.

Whilst I haven’t got a specific target to reach, I think it would be nice if I could raise a pound per mile I cover and I know it would certainly help The Stroke Association who rely heavily on voluntary donations and support.

The direct link to my sponsorship page is at


‘Super’ Cally goes ballistic, now staying in Loch Ness…

April 25, 2010

…apologies, couldn’t resist that headline!

Well, after re-visiting the inital route plan I’ve had to make some changes to it – mainly to make sure I’m ending each day in a spot with reasonable facilities and accommodation, but also to level out some of the imbalances of a short day followed by an abnormally long one.

The main changes are…

– a shorter first day and a stop now in St. Agnes rather than Newquay. This means my second day is longer, but I think it’ll be better to ease myself in rather than tire myself out on day one!

– a detour via Padstow on day two on the advice of someone who recommends Rick Stein’s fish and chips. Miss that opportunity at lunchtime?! I don’t think so!

– a stop off in Morecambe as opposed to Lancaster to get a chance to go and see that statue and compare Mr. Stein’s efforts to some ‘proper’ seaside fish and chips!

– rather than go for a silly long day on day ten and end in Inverness, I’m now stopping at the Loch Ness SYHA. It looks like an excellent stop and also means I’m not doing the day of over one hundred miles until my penultimate journey; in theory that should be a bit better…

So…that’s that planned (and available to see in daily chunks on The Plan page). I am going to prepare some ‘prompt cards’ with a turn-by-turn listing and also a slimmed down version of the map for the day so that should the GPS fail for whatever reason I’m not going to just be left to guesswork.

Otherwise it’s all ready to go onto the Garmin Vista HCx. That’ll take a little while, but once that’s in I’m as prepared as I can be in regards to the route…

Spring Lambs…sprung

April 12, 2010

In the same way that runners have their organised events, the cycling world is no different – playing host to numerous cyclosportives (or sportives for short) which are long distance, organised, mass-participation events and are typically held annually.

It’s fair to say that they’re the equivalent of a marathon as, rather than racing everybody else, most participants use the event to challenge themselves in a personal battle against the distance and the clock.

Well…I’ve now completed my first sportive. The Essex Roads’ Spring Lamb Sportive; a ninety three mile (150km) loop around the rolling hills of Essex, starting and finishing at Billericay.

Great day out and I really enjoyed it. One hundred and thirteen miles all in and, having said I’d be happy to record a time of under seven hours I was delighted to see my final time clocking in at six hours and seven minutes!

I managed to pair up with another rider for most of the day who was training for his own long-distance challenge over the summer, Dan.  It was nice to have someone to chat to, and the miles ticked over far quicker than I found on my journey the previous weekend.

There were a couple of points where we found ourselves joining up with a peleton of riders. Whilst I knew about it, I certainly hadn’t appreciated quite how much easier it was to cycle in or at the back of a pack. With both of us wanting to test ourselves over the distance, however, we opted to not draft and help each other with the wind and instead rode two-abreast where possible taking on the majority of the event individually.

Lovely weather for the duration, with beautiful spring sunshine breaking out for large spells. The feed stops were placed at ideal points and I’ll certainly be back to try out some more of the Essex Roads’ events in the future!

Only downside was my right knee starting to feel a little tender towards the end of the day. Having had my fitting last week I’m sure I’m set up correctly, so I think I may have just pushed myself a little too hard having basically covered the course at 15.5mph. It’s not the quickest speed ever, but it is 5.5mph faster than my trip back to Peterborough last weekend.

Rest tomorrow and then a couple of easy days to see how it is. Certainly not going to be pushing it that hard on the main trip, so no point in jeopardising finishing that by being silly with it all in the next three weeks.


April 6, 2010

So I went and had my fitting at The Bike Whisperer in Ealing today and I’m going to be yet another cyclist that’s going to be giving a good review of Scherrit and Corrine’s wonderful little business.

After an initial consultation to discuss my current cycling schedule and any future plans (what could they be…), a few questions to see if I had any particular issues at the moment with the fit of my bike and just a little chat in general before starting put me at ease and the one thing that I took out of the day was that it’s immediately apparant that they care not only about cycling as a whole but in particular, their customers.

With the fitting itself taking just over four hours I’m sure this review in my post won’t do it justice but it really was thorough; with stickers on my knees and Scherrit contorting himself to ridiculous positions to assess my pedalling my knee alignment and general technique was quickly altered for the better.

Five small wedges added to my cleats has added to the alignment solution and as an added bonus also stopped my heels brushing my cranks as I pedal (maybe I will invest in that Dura-Ace set-up in the future…!).

One problem I did suffer with on my London to Peterborough trip was an aching back which I thought could cause longer-term damage if it wasn’t addressed. Amazingly this was quickly addressed with an adjustment to the saddle positioning and the switching of my stem to a slightly shorter one. Uncomfortable feeling whilst on the hoods? Gone!

Finally, as a little Brucie Bonus, Corinne offered to give me a taping lesson so I had a quick tutorial as to how best re-do my tape in the future (and had some gel inserts placed underneath for that added comfort). White tape might suit the Bianchi but it doesn’t half show the dirt. The difference between the old and the new is staggering! 

Whilst all the work was done on the turbo in the workshop, the journey home was excellent with the bike feeling more comfortable and the niggles I’d noticed appearing over the last few weeks were no longer causing any problems.

Yes, I probably could have sorted out all the issues I was having myself but in short I’m a novice…it would, no doubt, have taken me ages and many cases of trial and error to try out all the different permutations.

It’s what Scherritt and Corrine do, they’re the professionals and they’ve seen it all before (and then some!) so what would have taken me days (or weeks) to sort, they’ve been able to get sorted in half a day.

I’d have no hesitation in recommending The Bike Whisperer’s service(s) to anybody. Incredibly patient and they really care about what they’re doing…top marks!

London to Posh…bosh!

April 5, 2010

Woo-hoo…one hundred and eighteen miles. Easily my longest ride EVER!

With a previous ‘personal best’ of forty seven and a half miles (which was recorded less than a month ago) it’s fair to say it was an ambitious target but, on Easter Sunday, I headed back from London to my parents’ house in Peterborough using a route made up of back roads. Some thoughts on the day…

I found a route on the Cyclist’s Touring Club‘s route list that got me halfway (London to Sandy), and concocted the second half having found myself a nice open source mash-up of all the National Cycle Network (NCN).

Most of the journey was okay but parts of the NCN are, in all honesty, an absolute joke! There were points where I was bouncing my way for miles along a rut made from cars passing through a field and other parts would not be out of place on the Paris to Roubaix route. It was certainly an experience…

I probably couldn’t have asked for better conditions. A light shower as I set off in the early hours, but this soon disappeared and I had a mix of sunshine and clouds to accompany my journey. Whilst it wasn’t ‘warm’ warm it wasn’t particularly cold either, although the North / North Westerly headwind certainly made the day harder than perhaps it could have been!

I was a little concerned about bonking (no, not that…it’s the cycling equivalent of ‘hitting the wall’) and probably had a bit too much food and drink on the way because of this but I’d much rather over-compensate and make it over a distance I’d never tackled before. Anyway, I got through…

1x Soreen Malt Loaf (Buttered)
1x Tuna/Sweetcorn sandwich
1x KitKat Chunky
1x Mars Bar
1x Nutri-Grain; Apple
2x Mule Bars; Summer Pudding (these were probably unneccesary with <10 miles to go!)

1x Lucozade Sport (500ml)
1x Coca-Cola (500ml)
2x Water (500ml)

Phew! I left the house at 07.40 and got through the front door at my parent’s place at around 18.45…yep, it was a long old day overall, but ultimately satisfying. It was certainly a nice feeling pulling onto the last road knowing where I’d started from.

Quite pleased to have got through it without too many niggles. My left leg felt a little ‘dead’ the next day and my back was aching like anything before getting a night’s sleep – I have a bike fitting due this week however, so it’s probably a good thing to have something to tell them before they set up the bike to my ideal.

Overall I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’d mentioned it during the week to a couple of people and they doubted me so it’s good to show I can see through my plans – bodes well for the trip at the end of May anyway!

I was amazed at how quiet the majority of the route was (even though it was back roads), and quite how far you can go without seeing anybody or signs of civilisation. Better planning would have reminded me that it was Easter Sunday so the majority of shops would be shut, but it was still interesting to see the distance you can go between any significant settlements.

Final thought of the day: the Garmin etrex Vista HCx is an absolute gem of a gadget! Yes, bikeroutetoaster has a habit of crashing and losing a route…but if you save regularly, then convert it using GPSbabel you’ve got a pretty much fool-proof navigation system. Now just need to remember to re-name routepoints to something useful (Lxxxx or Rxxxx to signal left or right instead of the generic RPxxxx would be a start!) and I’ll be well on my way.

Apologies if I have rambled at all…I’m still pretty excited by it all and wanted to get bits down whilst they’re fresh in the mind. Next weekend I’ve got my first Sportive planned. The Essex Roads’ Spring Lambs event no less. One hundred and fifty kilometres. Bring. It. On!